Now there are two as brewer Wadworth cuts down on shire horses - and staff
The Wadworth shire horses pictured being released for their summer holiday at Poulshot last year are, from left, Monty, Max and Prince
Iconic shire horses will continue to delivering beer in Devizes, say Wadworth Brewery bosses, despite taking a decision to reduce their number to two.
The Devizes brewery dispensed with the services of shire horse Prince at the end of January, leaving only Max and Monty remaining.
As a result of Prince leaving Wadworth long-serving horsemen Barry Petherick and Vince Minty were made redundant.
Wadworth used to have four shire horses which worked in pairs pulling two drays delivering beer, wines and spirits to pubs within a two-mile radius of the brewery.
In February 2011 the shires went down to three when Percy, with Wadworth for nine months, failed to make the grade and left. Despite searching for a replacement a suitable shire horse was not found.
The shire horses remained when Wadworth outsourced its distribution function to KNDL’s depot in Thatcham, Berkshire, in November 2012.
Charles Bartholomew, managing director of Wadworth, said as a result of outsourcing distribution there was less work for the shire horses to do and that Prince was the least healthy of the three shire horses and was ageing.
Mr Bartholomew said: “It was a sort of downsize. We were going to have to upscale to four shire horses or drop down to two.
“We were delivering quite a lot in the town using the shire horses but when we contracted out the distribution we now deliver less in the town.”
Prince, 11, had worked at Wadworth for seven years. The brewery took a gamble when they recruited him as he was younger than they normally like as there was a shortage of shire horses available.
He has gone to Westons Cider in Much Marcle, Herefordshire, does not have to undertake daily deliveries and will mainly have grass underfoot.
Mr Bartholomew said: “If shire horses are working on the road all the time you have to be careful of their legs. Prince was the one out of the three of them that looked as if there could be problems there.
“We were thrilled that Westons could take him. It couldn’t have worked better for him.”
The Wadworth shires are hugely popular in the county and every year hundreds of well wishers turn out to watch the horses enjoy the start of their summer holiday in fields at Poulshot.
Town mayor Pete Smith said he was very sad to hear the town was to lose another shire horse.
He said: “It is a great loss. The horses are such an attraction – I sometimes think they are more important than the brewery.
“I know motorists do cuss when they get stuck behind them, but they are such an asset. If I win the Lottery, I will buy another two shire horses for the town.”